Jimmy Butler isn’t blinking.
Whether it’s in the face of his own front office talking about trading the two-time All-Star last month or the perception that the Bulls guard has turned diva in helping escort Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah out of town this offseason.
Not a blink.
“That has nothing to do with me,’’ Butler said on Thursday. “I don’t move guys. Just like I always say – people are going to think what they want to think.’’
Not only did Butler deny that he had anything to do with his front office trading Rose and letting Noah walk in free agency, but wasn’t even bothered by the outside belief that he did have his hands in it.
“I know who I am,’’ Butler said. “That’s one more thing for someone to talk about. But that’s OK. I don’t really think too much into it.’’
And he didn’t think too much into draft night back in June, as the Bulls were in heated discussions to try and land highly coveted guard Kris Dunn, reportedly using Butler to do so.
“It’s not their job to report anything to me,’’ Butler said of general manager Gar Forman and VP of basketball operations John Paxson. “I’m a big boy. I don’t need you to tell me, ‘No, you’re not going to be traded.’ I know it’s a business and if it happens it happens, but I’m here.
“I don’t pay attention to it. I was in the gym working out during the draft. My phone was blowing up, but what can I do? I can go in the office and be like, ‘Hey please don’t trade me?’ If they were going to do that, that’s on them not me.’’
Besides, as far as Butler was concerned there’s enough on him these days.
Playing on Team USA and set to take off to Rio for next month’s Summer Olympics is priority No. 1 for Butler right now. The team started practicing together last week in Las Vegas, and their exhibition tour hit Chicago Wednesday afternoon, with a game against Venezuela Friday at the United Center.
Butler is expected to start that game, especially since USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski has been starting hometown players in front of their hometown crowds on this tour of friendly warm-up games, but was already looking forward to chasing a gold medal when the games count.
“Some winners,’’ Butler said of his current USA teammates. “Some gold-medal chasing guys that have fun. Joking around a lot. The group chat we have right now is unreal. Some guys that goof around a lot, but damn sure want to win when we step between these lines.’’
As far as the other baggage that has been attached to Butler since a season of disappointment came to an end, he seems like he’s already distanced himself from all of it.
Butler said that he has spoken to Rose and exchanged a few text messages with Noah since the Bulls underwent a facelift, but was more focused on moving forward.
“I’m happy for [Rose], he’s happy for me,’’ Butler said. “I’m glad we get to go against each other whatever day that may be when the season rolls around.
“I talked to Jo. We texted a few messages. Nothing too serious, but we’re always going to have love for each other because we’re always going to be teammates. We were in those trenches together.’’
NOTE: The Bulls released their preseason schedule on Wednesday, and will open up exhibition play on Oct. 3, hosting Milwaukee. They will play seven games, also hosting the Pacers, Cavaliers and Hornets.